Thursday, 31 March 2011

The Wife


I’ve been spending a lot of time with my colleague, another newbie; let’s call her Shasti. We're sharing a service apartment until we find more permanent accommodation. We went for a walkabout the other day, which was fucking hilarious. She wanted to open a bank account and I think we damn near scandalised the whole bank looking like the oddest couple. Me in my shorts and yellow t-shirt, contrasting with my dark brown skin. She in her turquoise salwar kameez. A glowing, youthful face juxtaposed with a significant number of snow-white locks. The looks on people’s faces suggested they were trying to figure out precisely what our relationship was: Sugar mama, wife, illicit lover?

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Streets

The perfume of incense, fragrant oils, herbs and spices. The air thick with half-burnt hydrocarbons, smouldering wood, cooking oil and hot tyres. Sometimes mixed with the sweet stench of rotting fruit and vegetables, and the musky putrefaction of cooked rice. Occasionally the dark odour of sewage. Evokes memories of Lagos.

The pavements, in the less nice places, a monjayaki of refuse from building sites, dumped rubbish, the shit of stray dogs, goats, sheep and cows. In other places, suddenly people/the powers that be know how to collect refuse and clean – memories of London, New York, Atlanta and Philadelphia. “Oh, this is high-life area, madam.”

Indians Don't Stare

Indians don’t stare. I’ve noticed a few older people and young kids give long glances of curiosity, but for the most part – in my experience of a mere 7 days. Yes, I’m a dadburned expert in Indian culture now! – Indians, more precisely Bangaloreans, don’t stare. 

They might be thinking all sorts of shit about darkest Africa when they see me on the street, but so far no one has given me a look like they know all about “my kind”, no woman has given me furtive glances, or cowered in fear at my proximity, no one has crossed the street upon seeing me come towards them, and no one has damn near caused a traffic accident rubbernecking. 

So far it’s been a nice contrast to some parts of Londinium and Japan. I love my Japanese brothers and sisters, but sometimes… 

I give it one month before I’m venting about Indians in the same way. Or perhaps not. Maybe here the fumduckery starts at two black men walking down the street.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Japan On My Mind

I was cleaning my room today in preparation for my departure to India and came across some old essays I'd written when I had passable Japanese, as well as postcards and photos from Japanese friends. The Sun newspaper used the headline "APOCALYPSE" to describe the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on the 11th. I resented the use of the word. It felt like someone was denigrating family. Yes, there is destruction on a massive scale, whole communities have disappeared, and the authorities are battling a meltdown at a nuclear power plant, but haven't the Japanese faced worse and pulled through? Why hint at the end of the world?

I think one of my crewmates was based in Sendai, one of the areas worst affected by the tsunami. I was looking at a picture of us together today. I haven't been able to get in contact with him. Last Friday I logged into Mixi, Japan's biggest social networking site, for the first time in about 9 months. I only have 4 connections, a fellow Brit who was working in Kansai through the JET programme, and three members of my old breaking crew. "Sure, I'll join Mixi. I want to keep connected." The words seem bereft of substance now after being out of contact for such a long time. I could write about how I dislike using Mixi, how in my depression since moving back to Londinium I've been loath to contact people, but it would do little to mitigate my feelings of guilt.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


Eamon Fingleton discusses "The myth of Japan's 'lost decades'" over at The Atlantic. Interesting piece - think the South Park episode where the Japanese claim they have small penises to deflect attention from their plans of world domination. I was talking about it with a friend and we didn't think it quite passed the smell test. Our conversation is after the jump.

Monday, 7 March 2011

"The Filth"

About two weeks ago, my cat Kenzo died. I'm not as crazy about pets as some of my fellow Brits, but I feel no shame in saying that I loved him, and he will be missed.

I can say with all honesty that from the moment Kenzo was born I knew he'd be my favourite. I called him by many names, including: Vincenzo, Kenneth Chen, Chen Jialuo, Kenzo-Ocean, Zocean, The Dogma, The O, and The Filth.

He and his brother ruled our old neighbourhood with an iron paw. The squirrels no longer stole bird-food, and feline intruders were shook like when the Dwarrowdelf of Moria started beef with the Flame of Udûn. That is how I shall remember him.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Just Because

My man, Loco, put me onto these lovely ladies. They have a really pleasant sound that I just had to share!